To be a successful consultative seller, you need to grow and maintain
a broad base of client contacts. Before you know it, you have hundreds,
even thousands of people on your contact list. Obviously it’s impossible
to maintain personal contact, yet personal contact is a key to building
and strengthening your client relationships.
How do you maintain and strengthen relationships with all of these
people so you will be among the first – if not the first – person
they remember when they have a business issue that requires your
I pride myself on my follow-up skills and strive to maintain relationships
with clients long after projects have been completed. But, the longer
I’m in sales, or working with a particular account, the more contacts
I have. Suddenly my simple approach to calling when someone comes
to mind, or when my CRM system says I should, no longer works. This
is the dilemma facing many of us as successful sellers. What to
do? The answer: a two-pronged strategy leveraging today’s technology.
Begin with a “divide and conquer” approach,
categorizing your contacts into tiers. The ‘A’ tier can include
top contacts or recommenders you stay in touch with regularly. These
are the people least likely to slip from our sights because they
will probably buy from you soon. It’s the ‘B’ and ‘C’ tiers that
are the challenge.
The ‘B’ tier are contacts that don’t have an immediate need, but
may have one in the next 12 months. You may have done work for them
before, or discussed places you can assist, but frequent communication
at this point is not required.
The ‘C’ tier are contacts that may someday appreciate your services,
but not in the foreseeable future.
While both ‘B’ and ‘C’ tier clients know you are there, you don’t
want to count on them to remember to call when a need arises that
you can assist with. Yet our schedules are busy and often we don’t
have the luxury of calling every ‘B’ and ‘C’ client regularly to
Some sellers feel it is enough to hope that their
paths will cross again in the future. That’s not definitive
enough for me. As I look at it, there are two prongs to a strategy
for staying connected and strengthening relationships with our legion
of client contacts.
- Keep our clients current on what we are focused on
- Provide our clients with new ideas
The first prong is easy. LinkedIn, the
online business networking site, shows your network “what you
are working on”, updating it every week, even emailing it out
to your whole network of contacts you have registered. Make sure
all your ‘B’ contacts are linked to you, and they can follow your
activities every week as long as you keep it updated. As you speak
with or think of them, link to your ‘C’ contacts.
Client relationship manager and email database technologies can
help with the second prong. Use the tools in your CRM to create
a nearly automated communication strategy. Queue
emails to connect with ‘B’ contacts every 60, 90 or 120 days.
Write an email that shares a new thought, a related issue a client
had and solved that would be of interest, a return on investment
another client achieved and how. As your ‘B’ contacts reply, call
to connect voice-to-voice.
The ‘C’ tier shouldn’t require a lot of time and effort. Add them
to your newsletter list, or emails you might send out regarding
updates in their industry. Plan to communicate with them every 4
– 6 months. Periodically send a personal email, checking in on their
summer plans, how the job is going. The email queue feature is great
for these because you can be sure to connect no matter how busy
By dividing your contact list into tiers, and determining what
you can do to effectively – and time efficiently – stay in front
of them you will strengthen relationships and stay top of their
mind whenever they have a need.